Ashado all set for '05 debut

Updated: April 5, 2005, 11:01 AM ET
By Mary Rampellini | Daily Racing Form

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Ashado is good to go. Last year's champion 3-year-old filly breezed five furlongs at Keeneland on Monday in her final major preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

A 1 1/16-mile race, the Apple Blossom will be the first start of the year for Ashado, who has been assigned top weight of 121 pounds. In her last start, Ashado won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Monday, she went in 1:01.60 in company with Monarch Lane, and the time was the fifth fastest of 21 moves at the distance at Keeneland.

"This morning she worked well and is on schedule," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Ashado.

Pletcher said Ashado would fly into Oaklawn on Wednesday and will be ridden by John Velazquez. There were six other probables for the race as of Monday, including Shadow Cast, who has won stakes in her last three starts. Trained by Neil Howard, Shadow Cast is weighted at 114.

"She's doing very well," said Howard, who has given the mount to Calvin Borel. "Being a mid-size field, and with her doing real good, we thought we'd take a shot."

Island Fashion, who is expected to start as the second highweight at 117, will be ridden by Jamie Theriot, said her trainer, Marcelo Polanco. Island Fashion was scheduled to have a three-furlong work at her Santa Anita base on Tuesday, then fly to Oaklawn on Thursday.

House of Fortune, who is weighted at 114, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 at Santa Anita on Monday and is also expected for the Apple Blossom, as are Dream of Summer, 116; Star Parade, 116; and Island Sand, 114.

Second of June set for Oaklawn 'Cap
Second of June worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:13.20 at Calder Race Course on Monday and is scheduled to run here Saturday in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap. Second of June will fly here on Wednesday, said his trainer, Bill Cesare.

The Oaklawn Handicap will share the Saturday card with the Apple Blossom. The program is being called Million Dollar Saturday by the racetrack.

Cesare said Second of June will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela.

Limehouse and Pollard's Vision, who are nominated to the Oaklawn, also worked Monday, but at Keeneland. Limehouse went five furlongs in 1:00.60, and Pollard's Vision went the same distance in 1:04.40.

Pletcher said Monday that he is still debating whether to run one of them in the Oaklawn. "They both worked this morning, and I have not decided yet," he said. "We could possibly send one."

Eddington and Grand Reward are both considered probable for the 1 1/8-mile race. Crowned King is possible.

The draw for the Apple Blossom and Oaklawn is open to the public and will be held on the first floor of the grandstand Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The stakes open up the annual Racing Festival of the South, when a minimum of one stakes a day will be decided over the final six days of the meet at Oaklawn.